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Interstellar (2014)

Interstellar - Christopher NolanTravel to where no man has gone before.. or has he?

Overall Grade: A-
Story: B+
Acting: A-
Direction: A
Visuals: A+

Summary: Every story we tell, will always come back to the original one- where did we come from and where are we going to end up?

Full Review: For true modern sci-fi (not the 50s/60s comic/horror kind), everything begins and ends with 2001: A Space Odyssey. And every attempt at modern philosophical inquiry through the lens of science fiction has thus been held up to the standard that Kubrik brought us in his 1968 epic film.  Interstellar is the latest film to reach out of our realm and try to grapple with the real questions of humanity- our origins, our struggles and our destiny

Like recent touchpoint sci-fi contenders Terrence Malik's The Tree of Life, Josh Trank's Chronicle, and the Alien prequel Prometheus, Interstellar maps its path to deeper truth by unlocking some of the universe's secrets. At least that is what Christopher Nolan seems to be trying to portray as he unravels quantum physics in a bid to make his film plausible. Much of what is presented in the film is based on the premise of solving many current impossibilities regarding interstellar travel, and the writers try to achieve this by having humans contacted by a superior life form that has learned to exist and manipulate 5 dimensions. The mishmash of scientific jargon centered around relativity is less effective than I was hoping for. While the film employs a real scientific basis in its research (via theoretical physicist, Kip Thorne), aside from a few excellent graphical representations of worm holes and blackholes/neutron stars sucking in light from other cellestial objects, only a few keywords are echoed in the script. I suppose this is unavoidable, as a more indepth treatment in the film would have droned on enough to make most viewers fall into boredom (and, in any case, Thorne collects this information in an ebook spinoff The Science of Interstellar: Thorne/Nolan). That aside, little else in the film fails to lift itself out of earth's orbit. The direction is essentially focused, with Nolan undertaking the task of visualizing both a bleak earth homeworld and a transcendent star system as an explorable destination. 

But the framework of the movie is not the science fiction. Overall, the weakest part of the movie is the relational story between a father and daughter. It is kept terse with the intention of it being powerful- daughter is head strong; dad is explorer type. Dad flies off in spaceship to save the world. Girl is mad at dad. This plot feels thinner than you'd hope for, given the backdrop of human survival, but its theme is re-echoed no less than 4 times throughout the movie in various ways. The relational fabric of people's perceived connection seems to constantly get in the way of saving the human race.  It is an interesting approach and one that goes juxtaposition to Kubrick's 2001, which aims to pit humanity against the glorification of his own progress- machine.

I absolutely loved the imagery of the film. Top notch. The acting is also excellent. And while the story portends its conclusion several times it feels forgivable since humanity lies in the balance. The core story line of the movie is essential, but, in this reviewers opinion, childish. Despite this, this film crosses over the line of being gadgetry and tech sizzle into the philosophical questions we have long asked. It does not, however, answer any of these questions with the majestic power of 2001 or the raw focus of Tree of Life. In fact, Interstellar doesn't actually answer any questions about origins or destiny, except to keep alive the viceral reality that we are powerfully, humanly and wonderfully flawed. And it is at this point that Nolan seems to make the film triumph in ways that make it a strong addition to the modern science fiction art form.

Do not wait to see this film on DVD or Netflix. See it on the big screen. 169 minutes of absolute bliss to the eyes and ears. One of the best films of the year.

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Review by Kim Gentes

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